The much expected SpaceX launch of Space Force GPS satellite was aborted two seconds before takeoff at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission abort occurred on Friday, October 2 at about 9:43 pm EDT, but it has now been rescheduled for another launch attempt on Saturday, October 4 by 9:39 pm EDT.
SpaceX engineers were starting the engine ignition sequence for the liftoff when they suddenly shut it down at exactly two seconds to go. The space company did not explain the reasons behind the aborted mission, but they announced the postponement on Twitter: “Standing down from tonight’s launch attempt of GPS III-4”.
The aborted exercise would have sent off the next generation of the US Military’s GPS III SV04 satellite into orbit. The satellite would have been the fourth one to be launched by SpaceX for the military in recent years – the space company launched two in late 2018 and one in June this year, and the aborted flight would have made the fourth. And of course, one was launched on top of the Delta IV Medium rocket in 2019.
Funny enough, the Friday launch abort was the second for SpaceX in two days considering the fact that they also aborted the launching of 60 Starlink internet satellites using the Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday. A new date has not been given for the relaunch of the communication satellites. Also, United Launch Alliance attempted to launch a Delta IV Heavy rocket with spy satellites into space on Wednesday, but the attempt was stopped because of some sudden technical problems.
If weather permits and SpaceX ultimately launches the military’s GPS satellite on Saturday, the company will try to bring down the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket onto a drone ship stationed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft is planned for deployment 90 minutes after the takeoff.